United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO REMAND AND DENYING REQUEST
FOR ATTORNEY'S FEES RE; DKT. NO. 16
H. KOH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
12, 2019, Defendant RAMCO Enterprises ("Defendant")
removed this action from the Superior Court of California for
the County of Monterey. ECF No. 1. Before the Court is
Plaintiff Carmela Maribel Arroyo's
("Plaintiff') motion to remand and request for
attorney's fees. Having considered the submissions of the
parties, the relevant law, and the record in this case, the
Court GRANTS Plaintiffs motion to remand and DENIES
Plaintiffs request for attorneys' fees.
connection with the pending motion and request, both sides
request that the Court take judicial notice of various
documents filed in the Superior Court of California for the
County of Monterey. ECF Nos. 16-4 and 17-2. Neither party
opposes taking judicial notice. "These court filings and
orders are judicially noticeable because they have a direct
relation to the matters at issue." Hypower, Inc. v.
Sunlink Corp., 2014 WL 1618379, at *1 n.l (N.D. Cal.
Apr. 21, 2014) (citing Fed.R.Evid. 201 and United States
v. Black, 482 F.3d 1035, 1041 (9th Cir. 2007)).
Additionally, courts regularly take judicial notice of
"undisputed matters of public record, including
documents on file in federal or state courts."
Harris v. Cty. of Orange, 682 F.3d 1126, 1131-32
(9th Cir. 2012) (internal citations omitted). The Court
agrees that these documents are subject to judicial notice
and therefore GRANTS the requests for judicial notice of
these documents pursuant to Rule 201(b) of the Federal Rules
of Evidence. See Id. However, to the extent any
facts in documents subject to judicial notice are subject to
reasonable dispute, the Court will not take judicial notice
of those facts. See Lee v. City of Los Angeles, 250
F.3d 668, 689 (9th Cir. 2001), overruled on other grounds
by Galbraith v. County of Santa Clara, 307 F.3d 1119
(9th Cir. 2002).
Court recounts the facts from the state court proceedings
only as necessary for the resolution of the instant motion
February 25, 2014, Plaintiff sued Defendant, a California
limited partnership, in the Superior Court of California for
the County of Monterey. ECF No. 16-4, Ex. 2 ¶ 5.
Plaintiff brought suit on behalf of a putative class of all
current and former employees of Defendant "who were
non-exempt under the Wage Order and who performed any work
for Defendants in California during the Class Period and were
paid any portion of their wages on a piece rate basis."
Id. ¶ 36. Plaintiff generally alleged that
Defendant unlawfully underpaid putative class members for
hours worked, minimum wages, overtime wages, rest periods,
and other reimbursement costs for work-related expenses.
Id. ¶¶ 12-35. Plaintiff alleged various
violations of the California Labor Code and the California
Business and Professions Code. Id. at 1-2. Plaintiff
amended the class action complaint on June 9, 2014 and again
on August 31, 2016. ECF No. 16-4, Exs. 3-4. The Second
Amended Complaint filed on August 31, 2016 replaced class
representative Beatriz Pantoja with current Plaintiff Carmela
29, 2015, Plaintiff served a settlement conference statement
on Defendant. ECF No. 16-4, Ex. 5. In the settlement
conference statement, Plaintiff demanded $11.5 million to
resolve all claims at issue, inclusive of costs and
attorneys' fees. Id. at 4.
7, 2019, Plaintiff filed and served Defendant with a motion
for class certification. ECF No. 16-5, Ex. 6. The motion for
class certification included a spreadsheet that Defendant
produced on March 5, 2019 in response to written discovery.
ECF No. 16-5 at 31 ¶ 5. The spreadsheet identified
thousands of putative class members and included the
residences of some putative class members. Id. at
387-513. Some putative class members were listed as residing
outside of California. See, e.g., Id. at 418, 446,
10, 2019, the state court granted Plaintiffs class
certification motion in its entirety. ECF No. 1 at 170. On
June 12, 2019, more than five years after Plaintiff initiated
this action, Defendant removed to this Court. Id. at
1. Trial in the state court action was scheduled for
September 16, 2019. Mot at 8.
12, 2019, Plaintiff moved to remand the case back to state
court on the basis that Defendant's notice of removal was
untimely. ECF No. 16. Defendant filed an opposition on July
26, 2019, ECF No. 17 ("Opp."), and Plaintiff filed
a reply on August 2, 2019, ECF No. 18 ("Reply").
Motion to Remand
right of removal is entirely a creature of statute, and a
suit commenced in state court must remain there until cause
is shown for its transfer under some act of Congress."
Syngenta Crop Prot, 537 U.S. 28, 32 (2002)
(quotation marks omitted). In other words, "the removal
statute is strictly construed, and any doubt about the right
of removal requires resolution in favor of remand."
Corral v. Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc., 878 F.3d
770, 773-74 (9th Cir. 2017) (quotation marks and internal
alterations omitted). Nonetheless, as the United States
Supreme Court explained, the rule is different in cases
invoking CAFA jurisdiction, as "no antiremoval
presumption attends cases invoking CAFA" because
"CAFA's primary objective is to ensure Federal court
consideration of interstate cases of national
importance." Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC
v. Owens, 574 U.S. 81, 89 (2014) (internal alterations
and quotation marks omitted). At the same time, even under
CAFA, "the party seeking federal jurisdiction on removal
bears the burden of establishing that jurisdiction."
Abrego Abrego v. Dow Chem. Co., 443 F.3d 676, 686
(9th Cir. 2006); id. ("We therefore hold that
under CAFA the burden of establishing removal jurisdiction
remains, as before, on the proponent of federal
contention that "Plaintiff bears the burden of proof in
seeking remand to state court" is entirely meritless.
See Opp. at 5. Serrano v. 180 Connect,
Inc., 478 F.3d 1018, 1024 (9th Cir. 2007), which
Defendant relies upon, pertains only to a plaintiffs burden
of establishing an exception to CAFA jurisdiction
once the defendant has already met its burden of
demonstrating CAFA jurisdiction. See Serrano, 478
F.3d at 1024 ("[W]e conclude that although the removing
party bears the initial burden of establishing federal
jurisdiction . . ., once federal jurisdiction has been
established . . ., the objecting party bears the burden of
proof as to the applicability of any express statutory
Request for Attorneys' Fees
remand of a case upon unsuccessful removal, the district
court may award "just costs and any actual expenses,
including attorney fees, incurred as a result of the
removal." 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). The award of fees
and costs is in the discretion of the district court.
Lussier v. Dollar Tree Stores, Inc., 518 F.3d 1062,
1065 (9th Cir. 2008). Nonetheless, "[a]bsent unusual
circumstances, courts may award attorney's fees under
§ 1447(c) only where the removing party lacked an
objectively reasonable basis for seeking removal. Conversely,
when an objectively reasonable basis exists, fees should be
denied." Martin v. Franklin Capital Corp., 546
U.S. 132, 141 (2005).
objective reasonableness of removal depends on the clarity of
the applicable law and whether such law "clearly
foreclosed the defendant's basis of removal."
Lussier, 518 F.3d at 1066-67. "If the law in
the Ninth Circuit is not so clear as to make the removing
party's endeavor entirely frivolous, a court will deny
the request for attorney's fees." Prado v. Dart
Container Corp. of Cal, 373 F.Supp.3d 1281, 1285 (N.D.
Cal. 2019) (quoting Dev. Bank v. Arthur, 2012 WL
1438834, at *7 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 25, 2012)).
the Class Action Fairness Act ("CAFA"), a
thirty-day removal period is triggered if the initial
pleading does not indicate that the case is removable, [but]
the defendant receives 'a copy of an amended pleading,
motion, order or other paper' from which removability may
first be ascertained." Carvalho v. Equifax Info.
Servs., LLC, 629 F.3d 876, 885 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting
28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(3)). Plaintiff moves to remand on
the grounds that Defendant's notice of removal was
untimely because Defendant filed its notice of removal on
June 12, 2019, more than 30 days after Plaintiff served
Defendant with an "other paper" indicating that
CAFA jurisdiction was proper. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(3).
For the reasons below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs motion to
remand and DENIES Plaintiffs request for attorney's fees.